New Role for Employers – Professional Fee Coder
By Barb Glondys, MA, RHIA, CHPS, Apprenticeship Navigator and SME, AHIMA Foundation

In response to feedback from many employers, the AHIMA developed and received approval from the Department of Labor for the Professional Fee (ProFee) Coder role as part our registered apprenticeship program.  Professional Fee (or ProFee) Coders use coding conventions and guidelines to abstract, analyze and accurately assign ICD diagnostic codes and CPT procedural codes to ambulatory, clinic, outpatient, and provider services. Their skill set is different than inpatient coders and thus the role of “ProFee Coder” has recently been approved as a distinct apprenticeable role and is eligible for registered apprenticeship through an AHIMA Foundation DoL grant. 

In 2015, the AHIMA Foundation was awarded a five-year $4.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to promote and support apprenticeship programs in HIM roles. The grant funds can be used to provide technical instruction to new employees or upskill current staff. To date, the grant has supported training in the roles of medical coder/biller, inpatient coder, clinical documentation improvement specialist and data analyst. Now, ProFee coders can also be hired into registered apprenticeship roles and trained using grant funds.  

The competencies that are met through the ProFee apprenticeship program are:

  • Use and maintenance of electronic applications  that support coding such as encoders and groupers
  • Application of outpatient diagnostic and procedure codes
  • Assurance of APC accuracy
  • Validation of outpatient coding accuracy
  • Use and maintenance of clinical classification nomenclatures (e.g. DSM-V, SNOMED-CT)
  • Resolution of discrepancies between coded data and supporting documentation
  • Support of accurate billing

Healthcare organizations including physician practices seeking to fill this critical role should consider starting a registered apprenticeship program to identify, train and maintain qualified profee coders. Training is provided through the AHIMA Foundation by qualified, certified coding instructors using premium AHIMA products, including the Virtual Lab. And speaking of certification…the related technical instruction was established based on professional coding certification domains. Apprentices are encouraged to take the role related certification exam. In fact, the grant pays for exam registration fee for the apprentice’s first attempt. 

Apprenticeship programs through the AHIMA Foundation are win-win opportunities for employers, apprentices and the health information industry!  Learn more about opportunity for employers, register for a free webinar today.